Four Garda stations in Westmeath are to close as part of the Government’s biggest ever restructuring of An Garda Síochána in the organisation’s history.
Ballinahown Garda Station is to close with the transfer of one position to Athlone Garda Station; however, the Ballinahown station has already been unmanned since the previous garda retired earlier this year.
The other Westmeath Garda stations to close are Castletowngeoghegan, Rathowen, and Finea stations, each of which has one garda in the station. These positions will be transferred to Kilbeggan, Castlepollard, and Multyfarnham respectively. The closures are expected to take place next year.
Closures have also been announced for the Roscommon/ Longford Garda district, with the Ballintubber, Ardagh, Ballinalee, Newtowncashel, Ballyforan, and Knockcroghery Garda stations facing closure.
In the nearby Laois Offaly district, Shannonbridge Garda Station is to close.
The local closures were among a total of 100 station closures announced by Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter on Wednesday this week. The existing 28 Garda districts are to be amalgamated into 14, while seven stations will have their opening hours reduced.
Speaking as the closures were announced, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he is “committed to providing the best possible policing service to all the communities of this State”.
“The announcement represents the most fundamental restructuring of An Garda Síochána since the foundation of the organisation. I acknowledge that this programme will be challenging for both the public and indeed for my own members of all ranks. However these are challenges we must face together.
“I am confident that there will be no diminution of service by An Garda Síochána. The revised structures will continue to support our community policing philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs,” he added.